Jerry Sandusky Scandal

Sandusky accuser wants to be “voice of the voiceless”

Steven Passarello speaks about his client, a victim of Jerry Sandusky, at the Centre County Courthouse on Wednesday, June 3, 2015.
Steven Passarello speaks about his client, a victim of Jerry Sandusky, at the Centre County Courthouse on Wednesday, June 3, 2015. CDT photo

The man who says that his life and his career in sports were ruined by sexual assault is not identified in Centre County Court documents by a pseudonym or a number or his initials.

Anthony Spinelli’s name is prominently spelled out at the top of the page, in a move not common for victims of sexual abuse.

He didn’t speak to the media Wednesday, but he stood with family and friends as he let his lawyers do the talking after the filing of his appeal, asking Attorney General Kathleen Kane to reconsider and prosecute his private criminal complaint against Jerry Sandusky.

But attorney Steven Passarello did not skirt the name of his client, using Spinelli’s name repeatedly in the press conference. It was not an oversight or a mistake. When asked, Passarello said that the 44-year-old former high school football player was being open about everything.

“There’s no hiding here,” he said. “He knows what’s coming. He’s exposed himself to the media scrutiny that’s going to come with it. But his goals are set. His goals are his goals, and one of those is to be the voice of the voiceless. And I think you have to have a name and a face to lead that charge.”

That means that Spinelli’s past will also become public knowledge. When asked for comment on the case, radio personality and documentarian John Ziegler, who has been a kind of spokesman for the Sandusky camp, pointed to Spinelli’s problems with the law.

Passarello did not deny them. Instead, he used them as an example of how off-track his client’s life had gotten after the 1988 football camp at Penn State where he alleges the assault occurred, admitting to drug and alcohol abuse and “substantial criminal activity” which included time in jail.

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape Vice President of Public Relations Kristen Houser said those problems don’t make the assault less likely.

“Many people use drugs and alcohol to cope with horrible feelings. This actually holds up,” she said. “His story is so familiar.”

Spinelli was 16 at the time of the alleged assault. That puts him on the high end of the age span for the victims in Sandusky’s 2012 trial. Those boys ranged from about 9 to 17.

Passarello said that he knows there are more Sandusky victims whose cases are too old to be handled by the court, and said Spinelli wants to speak for them.

Houser said she does not know of any specific Sandusky victims, but said many victims of sexual abuse exist in Pennsylvania whose cases have been precluded from prosecution by the statute of limitations.

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